Tuesday, December 11, 2007

"Just Say You are a Christian..."

One of my journeys in the north was to drive to Nazareth. I went to visit the family of a good friend of mine. I've been adopted into another wonderful Arab family! I had lunch in the home of my friend's brother, Baligh. He and his wife have a new baby boy, Hadi and an older son, Forat. I really enjoyed having lunch with them and visiting. We were also discussing the tour business here, as Baligh is a tour guide whom I hope to work with some day soon.

He took me to meet with a tour company operator in Nazareth that I hope to work with in the future as well. We had a productive meeting discussing the possibility of putting together tours in the future. I was very impressed with the company and this tour company manager.

Baligh also took me to the best bakery in Nazareth to pick up a box of Baklava for a friend of Steve's at the hotel. I got a taste of it... and it was WONDERFUL.

As Baligh and I chatted, he told me that it is getting more difficult for Arab Muslim guides to get hired for tours. I have heard this from other Muslim guide friends of mine as well. There are Jewish guides, Arab Christian guides and Arab Muslim guides. That tends to be the order in which they are hired by tour companies. Sometimes American tour companies request Jewish or Christian guides only. Another guide friend of mine once had 2 men from Seattle as a private tour. As soon as they learned he was Muslim, they stopped talking to him, would walk away as he was giving them site commentary, and eventually after 2 days called the tour company and asked for a Jewish guide. I was unbelievably angry when I heard this. These people were totally rude, for no reason other than their ignorance and prejudice.

Baligh told me that he has been asked (by tour companies) to tell groups that he is Christian, even though he is a Muslim. In other words, he is being asked to deny his religion. He refused to do this. I have other Muslim guide friends who have told me they too have been asked to deny being Muslim. I am proud of all of them for refusing to deny their religion to make others (who are extremely narrow minded, by the way) more comfortable.

No one should have to hide their religion for any reason, let alone in order to feed their families. It is astounding to me, that in this day and age, we still live in a world filled with such ignorance and fear.

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